Augmented Reality - What is It?

If you've ever used an app that sent you somewhere in the physical world to earn points, visited a website that allowed you to see what different hairstyles might look on your own face, or toured a historic site with the aid of a mobile device that narrated what you were seeing as you were seeing it, then you've experienced augmented reality, basically, "real life" supplemented with computing technology.

Augmented reality can help people live more productive lives, as information added by apps, web-based augmented reality services, and networked devices is ever more connected and available via wireless Internet connectivity.

Why Augmented Reality is Important

The World Wide Web has and continues to be one of the most pivotal inventions in human history. Augmented reality is a natural outcome of how the Web continues to progress; and as more technology becomes available to everyday consumers, this evolution will continue. Industry pundits in a recent Pew Internet Research white paper (.PDF) recognized that augmented reality is set to be one of the most crucial technological advancement factors as the Web continues to grow:

How augmented reality will change how we view information online: “We will see augmented reality as the new interface for information. Overlaying it on the real world will come to be seen as an enormous shift; historically, there will be a period before and after the advent of the ‘aug,’ as some sci-fi writers call it.

In retrospect, telephony and smartphones and social media and Wikipedia will be seen as mere steps towards this larger goal.”

The Web will become more interactive than ever before: “The most significant impacts of the Internet on people's lives by 2025 will involve augmented reality applications. Augmented reality tools such as AR mobile browsers (like Layar) or wearables (like Google Glass) will become affordable and widespread, and we will grow accustomed to seeing the world through multiple data layers.

This will change a lot of social practices, such as dating, job interviewing and professional networking, and gaming, as well as policing and espionage.”